AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Night and the City
Director: Jules Dassin (Dir)
Release Date:   Jun 1950
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 9 Jun 1950
Production Date:   late Jul--late Oct 1949 at London Film Studios, Shepperton, England
Duration (in mins):   95
Duration (in feet):   8,537
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Richard Widmark (Harry Fabian)  
    Gene Tierney (Mary Bristol)  
    Googie Withers (Helen Nosseross)  
    Hugh Marlowe (Adam Dunn)  
    Francis L. Sullivan (Phil Nosseross)  
    Herbert Lom (Kristo)  
    Stanislaus Zbyszko (Gregorius)  
    Mike Mazurki (The Strangler)  
    Charles Farrell (Mickey Beer)  
    Ada Reeve (Molly)  
    Ken. Richmond (Nikolas)  
    James Hayter (Figler)  
    Tony Sympson (Cozen)  
    Maureen Delaney (Anna O'Leary)  
    Thomas Gallagher (Bagrag)  
    Gibb McLaughlin (Googin)  
    Aubrey Dexter (Fergus Chilk)  
    Russell Westwood (Yosh)  
    Derek Blomfield (Young policeman)  
    Edward Chapman (Hoskins)  
    Brian Weske (Messenger boy)  
    Frank Pettitt (Cabby)  
    Hamilton Keene (Bartender)  
    C. Denier Warren (Small American)  
    MacDonald Parke (American)  
    Eddy Reed (American)  
    Ray St. Bernard (Strangler's opponent)  
    Lew Marco (Referee)  
    Walter Magnee (A second)  
    George Hirste (Beggar)  
    John Mann (Beggar)  
    Alan Tilvern (Beggar)  
    Leonard Sharp (Beggar)  
    Chunky Pattison (Dwarf)  
    Clifford Buckton (Policeman)  
    Clifford Cobbe (Policeman)  
    Charles Paton (Watchman)  
    J. Hubert Leslie (Nightwatchman)  
    Johnnie Schofield (Cashier)  
    Rex Garner (Waiter)  
    Peter Butterworth (Thug)  
    Arthur Lovegrove (Thug)  
    Freddie Watts    
    Stanley Escane    
    Philip Ray    
    John Sharp    
    John Rudling    

Summary: Harry Fabian, a minor league hustler in London's underworld, tries to borrow money from girl friend Mary Bristol for a proposed greyhound racing track but the cash, which Mary borrows from her neighbor, designer Adam Dunn, is actually to pay off a thug who has been chasing Harry and is waiting outside. Harry works as a tout for a dubious nightclub, The Silver Fox, run by Phil and Helen Nosseross, and Mary works there as a singer. Harry sends customers to the club on the pretext that they will have a racy evening but instead they are fleeced. At a wrestling show, Harry hustles a couple of potential suckers but is stopped by one of promoter Kristo's men. Kristo's father, Gregorius, a former champion wrestler who has come from Greece with his protégé, Nikolas, causes a disturbance in the arena as he is disgusted by the phony shows his son is staging. Harry sees an opportunity to move into another racket and promises Gregorius that he will promote classical Greco-Roman wrestling in London. Later, Harry asks Phil for financial backing but he refuses. Others in the underworld do likewise, fearful of reprisals by Kristo. Helen, who is interested in Harry and wants to leave her husband, gives Harry some money on the condition that he will get her a license to reopen a closed nightclub that will become theirs. Kristo's solicitor, Fergus Chilk, warns Phil that his employee should be discouraged from pursuing his plan to promote wrestling. Phil suspects that Harry is fooling around with Helen and decides to "set him up" by becoming his silent partner. As soon as Harry's company books its first promotion, Chilk and Kristo pay him a visit, advising him to leave town. Harry, however, introduces them to his ace-in-the-hole, his partner Gregorius, who has all but disowned his son. Kristo warns his father not to be involved with Harry and tells Harry not to betray his father in any way. Harry then bilks Helen out of more money before he gives her a phony club license. When Kristo tells Phil he knows that he is Harry's backer, Phil promises him that Gregorius will learn that Harry is not an honorable man. Phil's plan involves telling Harry that he is backing out of the deal unless Harry books a more commercial attraction like The Strangler, one of Kristo's regular wrestlers. Harry is forced to agree and talks with The Strangler's manager, Mickey Beer. They goad The Strangler into challenging Nikolas, and Gregorius is tricked into letting Nikolas wrestle The Strangler as the main event on Harry's first card. Harry tells Phil he has secured The Strangler but, as planned, Phil double-crosses him and phones Kristo in the belief that he will arrange appropriate punishment for Harry for having betrayed his father's trust. However, Harry tells Kristo that Gregorius wants the match to take place. Phil tells Harry that no one will give him the money he needs to make the event happen. When Adam tells Mary that he has seen Harry near her flat, she discovers him ransacking her place and "borrowing" money. At a gymnasium, The Strangler and Gregorius get into a fight, and Nikolas suffers a broken wrist trying to stop it. Kristo arrives in time to see his father demolish The Strangler. However, the battle has been too much for the old man, who collapses and dies. Kristo blames Harry for his father's death and spreads the word around the underworld that he will pay £1,000 to the man who gets Harry. In the meantime, Helen tells Phil that she is going to leave him to go into business with Harry, ignoring Phil's words that Harry has no future. On the run, Harry phones Figler, king of the beggars, asking him for somewhere to lay low. Figler tells him to come to his place, then phones Kristo. While Helen is instructing the girls at her new club, a police officer comes to ask why the club is opening as he thought it had been closed down. Helen shows him the new license Harry secured for her but the officer discovers that it is a fake. Helen returns to Phil only to find that he has killed himself. Harry is at Figler's but suspects that he has tipped Kristo off and leaves to hide out on a barge owned by Anna O'Leary, to whom he expresses regret about the way he has treated Mary. Mary finds Harry at the barge and tries to help him escape. He tells her to go to Kristo and collect the reward money on him. After Mary leaves, Harry rushes outside where Kristo and his thugs have gathered and shouts at Mary, falsely accusing her of turning him in and saying that Kristo should pay her. The Strangler catches Harry, kills him and dumps him in the river. Adam arrives with the police and comforts Mary as The Strangler is arrested. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century Productions, Ltd.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Jules Dassin (Dir)
  George Mills (Asst dir)
  Percy Hermes (Asst dir)
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck (Exec prod)
  Samuel G. Engel (Prod)
Writer: Jo Eisinger (Scr)
  William E. Watts (Contr wrt)
Photography: Max Greene (Dir of photog)
  Austin Dempster (Cam op)
Art Direction: C. P. Norman (Art dir)
Film Editor: Nick DeMaggio (Film ed)
  Sidney Stone (Film ed)
Costumes: Oleg Cassini (Costumes for Miss Tierney des by)
  Margaret Furse (Costumes for Miss Withers des by)
Music: Franz Waxman (Mus)
  Edward Powell (Orch)
  Eric Rogers (Orch)
  Bernard Mayers (Orch)
  Cyril J. Mockridge (Orch)
Sound: Peter Handford (Sd rec)
  Roger Heman (Sd rec)
Production Misc: Ronnie Kinnoch (Prod mgr)
  Mike Mazurki (Tech adv on wrestling)
  Micky Wood (Tech adv on wrestling)
  Freddie Fox (Personal asst to prod)
  Robert E. Dearing (Personal asst to prod)
Stand In: Maudie Edwards (Singing voice double for Gene Tierney)
Country: Great Britain and United States

Songs: "Here's to Champagne," music and lyrics by Noel Gay.
Composer: Noel Gay
Source Text: Based on the novel Night and the City by Gerald Kersh (London, 1938).
Authors: Gerald Kersh

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 9/6/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP236

PCA NO: 14096
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Melodrama
Sub-Genre: Gangster
 
Subjects (Major): Fathers and sons
  Gangsters
  Greeks
  London (England)
  Wrestlers and wrestling
 
Subjects (Minor): Forgers and forgery
  Gymnasiums
  Nightclubs
  Stadiums
  Suicide

Note: According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Gerald Kersh sold the motion picture rights to his novel to Chas. K. Feldman Group Productions, Inc. in May 1946 for $45,000. Jacques Tourneur was engaged by Feldman to direct the film but production was canceled due to "casting difficulties." Between 1946 and 1949, Feldman assigned the following screenwriters to the project: Edward Kaufman, William Kozlenko, Rowland Brown, Agnes Pottage, Jo Eisinger and Peter Berneis. Only Eisinger received screen credit; the others' contribution, if any, to the final screenplay has not been determined. In Mar 1949, Twentieth Century-Fox bought the property from Feldman for $175,000 and hired Eisinger to do further work on it.
       In an attempt to capitalize on the success of Universal's The Naked City (see above), the studio assigned that film's director, Jules Dassin, to Night and the City which was entirely filmed in London, using "frozen" currency owed to the company. A studio publicity release states that fifty-four different London locations were utilized, while only fourteen interior sets were used. An article in the NYT stated that ten of the twelve weeks of production were to be spent shooting on location. For the version released in America, the studio decided to replace the music score written by Benjamin Frankel (Muir Mathieson, musical director) with one written by Franz Waxman. The film was also shortened by approximately six minutes for its American release. It is likely that sequences involving singer Adelaide Hall, a calypso band and actors Eliot Makeham, Betty Shale and Betty Marsden were dropped for the American release.
       Some modern sources list Kay Kendall as a bit player but she was not visible in the print viewed. The film's American-release cutting continuity contains one brief scene which was not in the print viewed: After "Helen" discovers that "Phil" is dead, she learns that he has willed everything to "Molly," an old flower seller. Contemporary reviewers commented very favorably on the effectiveness of former wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko in the role of "Gregorius." According to studio documents, one of Zbyszko's real-life opponents, a wrestler named Hackenschmidt, objected to being identified in the film as losing to Zbyszko so his name was changed to "Heiderschmidt." Dale Martin Promotions of London supplied additional wrestlers and a referee. A new film version of Gerald Kersh's novel, starring Robert De Niro and Jessica Lange and directed by Irwin Winkler, was released in 1992. That film, which was also titled Night and the City , changed the setting from London's wrestling arenas to New York's boxing clubs. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   27 May 1950.   
Daily Variety   23 May 50   p. 3, 6
Film Daily   24 May 50   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Aug 49   p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Oct 49   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   23 May 50   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   27 May 50   p. 313.
New York Times   2 Oct 1949.   
New York Times   10 Jun 50   p. 11.
Variety   24 May 50   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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